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Former Texas QB Colt McCoy discusses struggles to overcome injury vs. Alabama

"I went to two Heisman Trophy ceremonies, and now I couldn’t even throw a football ... It was pretty scary."

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now a sixth-year NFL veteran with a new three-year contract from the Washington Redskins, former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy almost didn't make it to the league after suffering his debilitating shoulder injury in the national championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

In a piece for the Players' Tribune, McCoy describes his journey from the tiny town of Tuscola to the University of Texas and then on to the NFL, lingering in particular on those crucial moments before and during the game in the Rose Bowl in early 2010.

After stopping Alabama on the first possession, Texas looked poised to stretch the lead when McCoy and the 'Horns moved the ball inside the Crimson Tide 10-yard line. Then, offensive coordinator Greg Davis dialed up a speed option play that will remain one of the greatest turning points in school history.

When Alabama successfully defended the pitch, McCoy stopped and got hit in the back with the helmet of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. In the moment, there wasn't anything abnormal about the hit for McCoy. Until it became apparent that it was extremely abnormal:

But for one reason or another, this tackle was different. This hit would change my whole life.

I remember immediately after the collision my only thought was, "What just happened?"

I didn't have any pain in my right arm. I didn't have any feeling at all. It was just entirely numb.

While most Texas fans certainly remember that moment and the immediate aftermath, which included a distraught McCoy spending the second half on the sideline, unable to throw a football, what many may not know is how difficult the rehabilitation process was for him:

After we lost the game, the conversation turned to whether I'd ever play football again. I had severe nerve damage, an injury that takes years to fully recover from. I remember for a month after the hit, I couldn't so much as lift up a bag to put in my truck. Meanwhile, guys are at training facilities getting ready for the Senior Bowl and the combine.

I wasn't working on my bench press or deep throws. In fact, I had to entirely reteach myself how to throw a football. Imagine that. I went to two Heisman Trophy ceremonies, and now I couldn't even throw a football. It was humbling. Actually, it was pretty scary.

The injury lingered into his rookie season in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns after costing him significant money and draft positioning a year after he was given a late first-round grade by the NFL Draft Advisory Board and instead elected to remain in college for that shot at the national championship.

Something to remember the next time that fans want to criticize a player for leaving early.;

It all worked out eventually for McCoy, but the full story is worth reading for anecdotes about how he earned his scholarship from the Longhorns after nearly skipping a critical camp to run track, the valuable mentoring he received from Jake Delhomme while he was with the Browns, and the reasoning behind his decision to return to the Redskins even though he might have had better options elsewhere.